Prudes and nude judges

The Herald on Sunday has an item about a judge who was nude at a naturist/nudist camp. Eyebrows have been raised about photos of the judge on a grass lawn and playing petanque – or perhaps it’s more about click bait raising.

It’s hard to imagine that the Herald on Sunday can this prudish. So is this merely an attempt to make a controversy out of very little, if anything?

Naked judge pics online

That’s a WOW! sort of headline, attempted at least.

Pictures of a naked judge apparently holidaying at a nudist camp were used to promote the resort without the judge’s knowledge.

The pictures showing full-frontal nudity were posted on a public gallery of images advertising Pineglades Naturist Club.

In one, the judge was posing on a grass lawn. In another he was playing petanque.

Ah, is this really news? They try and suggest it could be a breach of Judicial Conduct.

Asked whether public use of the pictures would be considered a breach of the official Guidelines for Judicial Conduct, Doogue said: “The guidelines are intended as guidance for judges, and are not rules.

The Guidelines for Judicial Conduct warn that a judge, both in and out of court, attracts closer public scrutiny than other members of the community.

“The standing of the judiciary is adversely affected by conduct which, for others, might not attract serious criticism,” they say. “Judges must therefore accept some restrictions on conduct and activities as a consequence of appointment.”

The Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner has the power to investigate complaints but not to discipline judges.

It’s hard to imagine that reporter Stuart Dye or the Herald on Sunday are this prudish in 2016.

This story cold easily be seen as using the publicising of and possible deliberate embarrassment of a judge as online click bait to earn revenue.

Perhaps this warrants the attention of the equivalent of a Reporter Conduct Commissioner and a Newspaper Conduct Commissioner.

I’m not in to public nudity or ‘naturist’ camps, but I think this story reflects far more poorly on the conduct of the Herald on Sunday than of the judge – I don’t see that he has done anything wrong at all.


Shoddy flag poll report

The Herald on Sunday reports on the flag referendum and shoddily quotes an unscientific self selecting online poll.

Flag referendum: Most like old flag

Even the headline is very misleading – the referendum did not determine any preference for the old flag, it was wholly about choosing a preferred alternative and was nothing about the old flag.

New Zealand’s 113-year-old flag will win next year’s binding referendum, according to an online poll, but the March vote could be close.

Fifty-six per cent of respondents to an online Herald survey yesterday said they would vote to retain our current design, which officially became our flag in 1902.

Forty per cent of the 7500 who took part in the unscientific poll said they would back Kyle Lockwood’s black, white and blue silver fern, the provisional winner of stage one of the referendum.

Note the changing descriptions of the poll in the headline and first three paragraphs.

  1. “flag referendum: most like old flag”
  2. “an online poll”
  3. ” an online Herald survey”
  4. “the unscientific poll”

They don’t say that online self selecting polls are notoriously unreliable. They don’t quote a margin of error because that cannot be determined – the chances of error are high.

In the online survey, 3 per cent said they wouldn’t vote and a further 1 per cent said they would spoil their vote.

If the Herald online “poll” was accurate that suggests that 97% of people would vote in the second referendum.

About 48% voted in the first referendum. In the last general election 77.9% of eligible voters took part.

From the headline down this is a shoddy report from Tess Nichol at the Herald on Sunday.

The unscientific self selecting poll/survey result is actually closer than scientic polls earlier in the year, but that’s meaningless.

“Don’t get sick, losers”

Paul Little seems to have bee on some bitter pills when he wrote his latest column, Can’t afford meds? Don’t get sick. 

Maybe some twisted pills as well.

So now you’re interested in the Trans Pacific Partnership. After years of warnings about the free trade agreement’s potentially disastrous effects on lapdog countries such as ours, which have been straining at the leash in our enthusiasm to see the deal signed off, the public has been given a hip-pocket reason to give a toss.

There have been a number of quite successful free agreements that have enabled New Zealand to become a relatively  independent trading nation.

“Lapdog countries such as ours” is an appalling description. Would Little prefer we were a poor, isolated backwater country?

Hitherto, objections have centred on far-fetched scenarios involving large corporations gaining control of nations’ intellectual property, suing foreign Governments for not doing their bidding and other nightmares.

Yes, there has been a lot of scary claims about what will happen, alongside claims that they don’t know what is being negotiated so don’t know what will happen. Paranoia promoted by a vacuum of knowledge.

Then John Key, in an uncharacteristically gauche move, admitted the cost of some medicines would go up under the TPP. This is hardly surprising. When the aim of a deal is to end protection, things tend to be left unprotected.

That’s contradictory and incorrect, the aim is not to “end protection”. The cost of some medicines could go up if greater protections are given to original drugs over generic drugs.

The PM has been such an enthusiastic supporter of the TPP that when he has no choice but to admit it has a tiny downside, you know it’s serious and almost certainly not the worst of it. He might have thought no one would notice – after all, health is almost proverbially something we take for granted.

We don’t know how serious nor do we know “the worst of it” because no agreement has been reached. The talks have stalled.

Any trade agreement has potential downsides, the aim is to negotiate more upsides than downsides. If you don’t get that you don’t make the agreement, as turned out in Hawaii yesterday. I wonder if Little wrote his column before he knew that?

But meddling doctors’ groups, not yet discredited in the way teachers, beneficiaries and unionists have been after decades of neoliberal governments, led the charge in deploring this possibility.

A few bitter pills there.

Our tough love Government must find this galling. Medicine, in its mind, is probably an extravagance indulged in by people who don’t have the mental fortitude to deal with illness and chronic conditions with positive thinking and a can-do attitude. Can’t afford medicine? Don’t get sick, losers.

And there’s some twisted pills.

So the Government has said that when – not if – costs go up, it will find the money to cover the difference. Governments, you’ll remember, usually get their money in one of two ways – from fabulously wealthy benefactors who dip into their own pockets to keep the country running; or from taxpayers.

Little seems to be getting his concoctions mixed up here. He seems to be taking a swipe at party donors “fabulously wealthy benefactors” which has nothing to do with Government revenue.

And as we have long known the tax burden falls disproportionately on those of limited means, who are also likelier to be poor, as the gap between richest and poorest widens, partly due to measures such as the TPP.

“The tax burden falls disproportionately on those of limited means” is an an often repeated nonsense. Those of the most limited means are provided for by wealthier people who pay the bulk of the tax.

Measures such as TPP type trade agreements stop New Zealand from going broke. Sure “the gap between richest and poorest” would be much narrower if we dind’t have trade agreements, we’d all be much poorer.

The final TPP talks are taking place at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa Ka’anapali in Hawaii, where every guest room has a Heavenly Bed, equipped with “a custom-designed Simmons Beautyrest pillow-top mattress set, cozy down blanket, three crisp sheets, a comforter, duvet and five fluffy pillows”. Heavenly Dog Beds are available on request.

It’s a good choice of location when it comes to selling the TPP. It shows us the standard of living we can all expect when the agreement goes through.

Perhaps Little would prefer trade negotiators stayed at Couchsurfing in Maui – the standard of living we could all expect without trade deals.

And for those of us worried about paying for medicine, just imagining what it’s like to sleep on a Heavenly Bed, or in some cases, just under a roof, will take our minds off our woes and stop us feeling sorry for ourselves.

Little seems to see himself as one of the poor who have to pay $5 for prescriptions in New Zealand. He certainly seems to be feeling very sorry for himself.

Some readers may have been lured into viewing a Seven Sharp item, widely re-posted online, in which Professor Jane Kelsey demolished some of the propaganda being used to sell the TPP and explained what it will really do.

Who is peddling propaganda? Kelsey has been campaigning against the TPP for a long time, warning “what it will really do” – when she is not complaining about not being told what it might do.

This is the Jane Kelsey who “is a key member of the Action Resource Education Network of Aotearoa (Arena), and is actively involved in researching and speaking out against the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, free trade and corporate-led globalisation.” – Wikipedia.

Kelsey “is an outspoken critic of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks.”

Unfortunately, she did not do it in terms simple enough to be understood by Mike Hosking, who continued to frame his encounter with Kelsey in terms of winning, losing and point-scoring.

It’s not as if Kelsey or Little would resort to point scoring.

Please do not adjust your set – I am reliably informed this was an aberration and not an indication that Seven Sharp has taken to giving air space to intelligent commentary.

That’s Little’s concluding paragraph. After all the bitterness expressed about the TPP, trade, John key and the Government all he has to end with is a petty diss of another media outlet.

This column is not an indication that Little has taken to giving air space to intelligent commentary.

Paul Little sounds like a bitter loser. A sick column.

The Mojo story and a Masterton coincidence

The big question still unanswered about the Mojo Mathers versus Taxpayers’ Union story is who initiated the story.

Questions are being asked about a taxpayer-funded trip for deaf MP Mojo Mathers to be interviewed on a small provincial radio station.

A puzzle has remained about who put the questions to the Herald on Sunday in the first place.

Tonight PhilP commented on Kiwiblog:

I read a piece in Monday’s Wairarapa Times-Age where Trevor Mallard, Grant Robertson and Chris Hipkins were in Masterton last weekend with their Wairarapa Labour candidate Keiran McAnulty. Apparently they were out door knocking.

I can’t find the item on their website, but lo, the Wairarapa Times-Age is hosted by NZ Herald so must be APN.

This story is confirmed by some tweets:

@Kieran_McAnulty  Mar 1
Had a fantastic response from #gigatownMTN locals today, as the Labour team canvassed door to door. To those who helped out – Thank you!

@chrishipkins Mar 1
Great afternoon door knocking in Masterton. We’ve got an awesome candidate in @Kieran_McAnulty – popular with locals!

Embedded image permalink
And curiously:

If MPs end up having to justify every plane trip, taxi ride, bus fare, or train ticket the end result will be less public access to MPs

 @gtiso  Mar 1

@chrishipkins don’t worry. It’s only the left-wing MPs.

That was on Saturday. The Mojo Mathers story was posted on the NZ Herald news site at 8.30 am on Sunday.

Green MP’s 800km taxpayer-funded trip questioned
By Patrice Dougan

8:30 AM Sunday Mar 2, 2014

Was it available in the print version of the Herald on Sunday before Sunday?

It seems quite a coincidence that Chris Hipkins was in Masterton on Saturday with Trevor Mallard and was talking about the story topic.

Another tweet:

Drove down to Children’s Day celebrations at Avalon Park this morning. Don’t tell Jordan Williams about this travel extravagance…

See earlier story: Mathers story seems odd

UPDATE: There’s confusion over timestamps in Twitter between browsers, it appears that Hipkins’ tweets were made on Sunday afternoon. Chrome:

Hipkins Masterton 1

But Firefox seems to be accurate:

Hipkins Masterton 2I’ve never noticed before but the layout is different between the browsers as well.

I accept the Sunday afternoon timestamp. This reduces the level of coincidence, but it’s still very curious to see the three Labour MPs active in Masterton on the same day the story was probably researched and written.

The news report from the Masterton Times-Age.

Labour MPs Masterton

And the big questions remain:

  • who gave the story to the Herald on Sunday?
  • why was the Taxpayers’ Union questioned about the story?
  • why did the story imply the Taxpayers’ Union had asked the initial questions?
  • what were the motives for trying to make something of a very innocuous visit by a Christchurch MP to Masterton?

UPDATE2: Someone from the Wairarapa says about the Times-Age:

Worthy of note is that the wretched editor, one Andrew Bonallack, is determined to turn the paper into a Labour Party news propaganda organ.